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WLCU World Economic Forum- Youth Council Report 2022

By Christina Salamy, WLCU World Youth President

On August 18th and 19th, 2022, the World Lebanese Cultural Union held their first World Economic Congress for Lebanon, a forum attended by various Lebanese representatives and dignitaries from across the world with the aim of discussing possible solutions to aid our beloved Lebanon. Below are comments noted out by myself, Christina Salamy, as a participant of this forum, on the status of Lebanon, and as well, any advancements that might have come about pertaining to the WLCU Youth during my stay.

Impression on the WLCU’s First World Economic Congress for Lebanon

Attending this conference on behalf of the youth worldwide was a pleasure. As this was the first conference carried out by the WLCU of its type, attendees and participants included diplomats, dignitaries, politicians, officials, reporters, and journalists, aired live by a handful of media outlets. The two day forum was in collaboration with 100% Liban, a local organization working toward building bridges between actors of the private sector to create a unified vision towards a better Lebanon, and was composted of structured panel discussions lead by WLCU officials and carried out by a mix of accomplished experts from the Lebanese diaspora and/or Lebanese locals.

The list of roundtable panel discussion topics and panellists can be found in the program attached. The following pros were voiced following the forum in terms of the youths perspective:

  • The panellists were phenomenal. Each well educated and accomplished.
  • Collaborating with neutral NGOs added to the events value.
  • The overall event was a great networking opportunity in preparation for a possible LEBolution. Through this forum, we were able to gain a great amount of support from the many businessmen and women whom were present. Many of them offered to support if a trip was to be held in Lebanon in 2023, ready to welcome and aid our initiative in any way possible.

As this forum was the first of its kind, there were of course areas to improve in and more support required from the WLCU officials across the globe but feedback was provided and they will be focused on going forwards if there is the intension of holding this forum annually. As the youth, our support was offered, as always.

Impression on Lebanon and its current state

As easy as it may seem, to explain the current state of our dearest Lebanon has been found to be quite complex. It was found that there are three types of mindsets that are to be common amongst a handful of local youth that I was fortunate to interact with.

  1. The mindset that they must leave, to seek what is waiting for them outside, the hopeless feeling that they cannot and will not obtain their future within the country.
  2. The youth that have stable jobs, are getting paid the basic wage or more, living pay check to pay check but trying to utilize the weekends for pleasure/to unwind.
  3. The youth that left right after the explosion, working to structure their lives outside of the country but finding that it was too different, that amidst all of the flaws Lebanon holds, they were driven back to returning in order to make their path work.

It is important to take a moment to note that each of these paths showcase the resilience of our people, whether that is the resilience of a young Lebanese deciding to leave their loved ones and all they’ve know to emigrate and start a new life, whether that is the resilience of a young Lebanese making ends meet month after month and persevering through the pain and creating their own light at the end of the tunnel, or the resilience to return back after leaving Lebanon even though it is visible that the country is far from its full potential but trusting the process.

The state of the country is unfortunately very devastating, but we must not forget the role the media plays in over dramatizing the situation as explained during my discussion with the Lebanese American University director. From the economic crisis to the lack of basic necessities, the country and its people have no choice but to persevere. It would be untruthful to say that everyone is finding a way to live as the countries poverty level is hitting an all time high but on the opposite end, there are many citizens whom left the country following the explosion in order to try and pave their path elsewhere only to find the urge to return back to Lebanon with this unusual hope. It was also found that there were many non-Lebanese visiting the country, which truly was an amazing sight to see.

Additional Advancements

In terms of additional advancements, a meeting alongside the Lebanese American University (LAU) as well as Medonations were both carried out with a focus on LEBolution 2023 and the work we can carry out keeping in mind the hybrid humanitarian side of the trip.

LAU: On the 16th of August 2022, a visit was made to the LAU Hamra Campus meeting with Ms. Dina Abdulrahman, Director of International Services, Executive Director, MEPI-Tomorrow’s Leaders Programs, Ms. Micheline Saadeh, Lead SINARC Associate, International Services Office, and Dr. Elise Salem, Vice President, Student Development & Enrolment Management. What was discussed pertained two things, the first being how we can aid the LAU, specifically the SINARC program and supporting their cultural immersion program globally, and the second being how LAU can aid us in our upcoming projects, specifically in terms of a possible LEBolution. As it was carried out in 2019, a visit was made to the LAU and so the hope in hosting the World Youth Congress at the LAU once again, with a very humanitarian focus was in discussion.

Medonations: On Sunday, August 21st, 2022, Ms. Stephanie Abi Khalil, the #SHEis commissions team lead met with the founder of Medonations, an organization recently collaborated with which holds the aim of providing medical needs for families in Lebanon for free. It was discussed that in the year to come, if a LEBolution was to be carried out then the vision proposed is that prior to receiving the 200 youth, each are to bring one piece of medicine along with them in order to aid. It was also noted that specific countries have specific medicine which is unique to that country and so what was suggested is that prior to the trip, a list of participating countries is to be provided to Medonations in order for them to guide us towards what medicine to focus on obtaining. Lastly, it was mentioned that depending on the airline, some flights might allow free additional luggage if one is carrying along with them donations. Closer to the date, if a WLCUY Medicine Drive idea is carried out, this can be something to keep in mind.

As well, unfortunately, a WLCU council meeting was not held following the economic forum as the attendance from officials was scarce but a WLCUY Report was prepared covering the progress made from the beginning of the term, October 2021 till August 20th, 2022. Due to this, the report has been sent to the World Secretary General, Mr. Roger Hani, for circulation in order to assure that the youth’s progress is shared.

Closing

Overall, Lebanon does still need our help. It needs our attention but I am hopeful that if a trip was to be planned to Lebanon for next year, a great impact can be made.

 

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